QUEBEC - Some Quebec companies dodge the stringent rules of Quebec’s language laws by simply asking the provincial government for an exemption.

But smaller businesses are not eligible to get those same breaks.

FPInnovations, a Pointe Claire-based forestry research group with $92 million in earnings, was granted an exemption from the rules of Bill 101 after it convinced language bureaucrats of its need to conduct communications in English.

A company official said that the request was granted without much fuss.

“It was really something which was done together,” said company representative Pierre Lapointe. “There was no aggressivity on either side. The Office really understood the R&D culture and the R&D climate.”

All told, 54 Quebec companies have been granted exemptions from Bill 101, including Bombardier, SNC-Lavalin, CAE and Peerless.

Those companies are permitted to operate in English at their headquarters and research centres. Other communications must still be conducted in French.

The companies have learned that reducing language restrictions has provided them a key competitive advantage in the age of globalization.

“Everybody will be worldwide in the near future so we have to find some way of doing things, that's for sure,” said Lapointe.

However the Parti Quebecois’ proposed Bill 14, which would tighten language laws, goes in the other direction.

That frustrates some companies, including farm machinery manufacturer G.E. Leblanc, based in Saint-Anselme, just south of Quebec City.

The company uses English-language software to deal with partners in such places as China and Denmark.

The company has been deemed ineligible for an exemption to Bill 101 because its headquarters is not based in Quebec.

In recent hearings on Bill 14, Minister for the French Language Charter Diane de Courcy expressed some willingness to modify the bill in order to attract necessary support from the opposition CAQ.

But those changes would not likely include concessions to companies wishing to conduct their affairs in the language of their choice.

Click here to see the list of 54 companies with exemptions to Bill 101.